Sunday, May 24, 2009

Some info from one of the American English teachers qurantined for Swine Flu in South Korea

I sent an email last night to one of the people in quarantine with some questions. They were kind enough to answer.

From the email,

Here are some questions I'm curious about . . .

1) Who was taking pictures of you? How many did they take? Where and when were they taking them? What rank/position Koreans were present?
2) Do you think you could have refused to let them take pics of you?
3) What time do they make you wake up? Is there a wake up time and a curfew?
4) Has the medical treatment been up to par? As in gloves, masks, and proper hygiene when treating you/taking blood, etc?
5) How tight is the security there? Could you 'make a break' for it if you wanted to?

From the response,

Hello Jason,

A quick response, as I'm going to bed here soon. Sorry I can't go into more detail, but I'm bushed.

1) Regarding the photo with the pig mask, my awesome girlfriend took those of me. We have a good, tho' twisted sense of humor. There were reporters outside the hotel in -----, they took video of us, but as we were behind tinted glass in the back of an ambulance, they only took pictures through the front of the car. Rank/Position, not quite sure, tho' there were several people with cameras.

2) Could I have refused them to take pictures? I doubt it. No one asked, but it was NOT very intrusive. Nothing outside what would be seen in the U.S., if not more respectful. Certainly not a media circus.

3) There is no real wake up here, tho' yesterday they came in at around 6:30 am to take temperatures and ask questions. Most of us promptly went back to bed. There is no curfew, however we can't actually leave the building as it's roped off and guarded.

4) Medical treatment has been good. No blood has been taken. If anything, I think people here are growing more annoyed with the fact that we're not being told anything, and some people are simply being moved from this quarantine facility to others in the middle of the night without much notice. There's a severe lack of communication. Outside that, we've had great treatment. Even had burger king and pizza hut for dinner.

5) Could we 'make a break for it'? Perhaps. But everyone's cooperating for the most part. I doubt one could get very far, as there are forests and CCTV all over the place. No one has really openly said anything about attempting to run.

Hope this helps! We're off to bed soon.

~warmest regards,


I really want to give a huge thank you to X for answering my questions. X seems to be in good spirits, and is dealing with the situation well.

The answers to my questions generated even more questions in my mind.

1) Have the medical staff told them about how one of the biggest dangers with N95 masks is during when a person puts it on, does something (like eating), and then puts it back on again--if you don't wash your hands properly after taking it off/putting it back on again you can infect yourself.
2) If they haven't taken blood samples how are they testing the foreigner teachers they've quarantined? Is this simply a "you're foreign" and MIGHT have had contact therefore we're detaining you for 10 days no matter what . . .
3) If people aren't being tested then how does the Korean government think it's tracking the numbers of infected properly?
4) For the foreign teachers who ARE sick--what kind of treatment are they getting? What kind of meds?
5) Has anyone been told they are being tested? And if so, what were the results? Or are they just locking you up for at least 10 days regardless of whether or not you're infected?

And then I started doing more reading . . . see the links below for the WHO's info.


Links to WHO information,

Influenza A(H1N1)

Influenza A(H1N1) guidance documents

I wondered what the guidelines, REAL guidelines, are for what a government is supposed to do when they suspect infected cases in people . . . and found this,

Interim WHO guidance for the surveillance of human infection with A(H1N1) virus

Clinical case description

Acute febrile respiratory illness (fever >38°C ) with the spectrum of disease from influenza-like
illness to pneumonia.

1. A Confirmed case of swine influenza A(H1N1) virus infection is defined as an individual
with laboratory confirmed swine influenza A(H1N1) virus infection by one or more of
the following tests*:
real-time RT-PCR
• viral culture
• four-fold rise in swine influenza A(H1N1) virus specific neutralizing antibodies.

2. A Probable case of swine influenza A(H1N1) virus infection is defined as an individual
with an influenza test that is positive for influenza A, but is unsubtypable by reagents
used to detect seasonal influenza virus infection OR
A individual with a clinically compatible illness or who died of an unexplained acute
respiratory illness who is considered to be epidemiologically linked to a probable or
confirmed case.

* Note: The test(s) should be performed according to the most currently available guidance on
testing (

From wikipedia's entry on real-time RT-PCR, or, Real-time polymerase chain reaction,

Applications of real-time polymerase chain reaction

There are numerous applications for real-time polymerase chain reaction in the laboratory. It is commonly used for both diagnostic and basic research.

Diagnostic real-time PCR is applied to rapidly detect nucleic acids that are diagnostic of, for example, infectious diseases, cancer and genetic abnormalities. The introduction of real-time PCR assays to the clinical microbiology laboratory has significantly improved the diagnosis of infectious diseases, [8] and is deployed as a tool to detect newly emerging diseases, such as flu, in diagnostic tests.[9]

In research settings, real-time PCR is mainly used to provide quantitative measurements of gene transcription. The technology may be used in determining how the genetic expression of a particular gene changes over time, such as in the response of tissue and cell cultures to an administration of a pharmacological agent, progression of cell differentiation, or in response to changes in environmental conditions.

1 comment:

Brian Dear said...

They're testing some of us using throat swabs. I for onr have been given Tamiflu.. no tylenol is allowed because it "masks symptoms," according to the medical people here. I'm blogging too: within the next hour, I'm posting a brief video tour of our holding area.